IN A NUTSHELL
A 21st century, 20-something nomad, currently living in NYC, soon to move to New Delhi.
BUT IF YOU WANT THE WHOLE STORY:
I am a New Yorker to the bone. I don’t cook, I hate people who walk slowly in front of me, I get that frantic look in my eye when I am about to miss a subway, even if the next one is in 2 minutes, I pay too much for a shoebox apartment that I adore, and I have learned not to take shit from anyone.
My love affair with New York City began at the tender age of 7, when my family up and moved here for my parents’ jobs. As we stepped foot into Manhattan for the first time, I craned my neck upwards and marveled at the gargantuan skyscrapers, while they looked condescendingly down at me. I felt so incredibly small and young when I looked at them, it was as if the city was responding to my instant love for it by saying ‘You’re too young for me, come back in a few years.’ … And I did.
We were in NYC for 3 years, after which we moved back to New Delhi when I was 10 years old. I was heart-broken. I was in withdrawal. I couldn’t understand how my parents could move us from the greatest city in the world to subject us to the constant chaos that ensued in Delhi. The electricity cuts, the bugs, the dust, the traffic, being the middle class kid in a rich kid school, the awful television programming, the lack of shopping options… I vowed to myself that one day I would move back to NYC, so when it came time for college applications, while I applied to several colleges outside NYC, when it boiled down to it there was no competition; I decided to go to Barnard College, right here in Manhattan.
I spent 3 too-short years at Barnard where I majored in Anthropology and minored in Political Science. I met the greatest friends a girl could ask for; the kind who help you move into your first real apartment smack in the middle of an angry summer, who come over with chocolate, ice cream, brie, and sangria to blast and sing along to 90’s pop songs when you have just broken up with your boyfriend, who don’t ask questions or judge when you subsequently get back together with the aforementioned boyfriend. I partook in frat parties, dorm parties, roof parties and basement parties. I pulled all-nighters, and sometimes, didn’t do any work at all. I danced, I acted, I pushed the boundaries of my creative and intellectual self. I interned, and interned and interned some more.
Once I was released into the ‘real world’, I got a job at a small start up art company in Brooklyn doing Marketing and Customer Relations. A young office environment, with smart, kind and genuine co-workers and a dynamic atmosphere, it was the best first job anyone could ever ask for. However, being a foreign citizen, I was only permitted to work in the US for a year after graduation, after which I would need to apply for a work visa to continue. The H-1 visa application process is an incredibly long and tedious one requiring tremendous amounts of paperwork and lawyers, and my company was not in a position to sponsor me.
This would have devastated me had I not had the opportunity to visit Delhi last January. It had changed by leaps and bounds, and I hadn’t even noticed because I only had eyes for New York. It had a clean and efficient metro system, great restaurants and bars, a budding music and artist community, and all the luxuries a ‘first-world’ city could hope to offer. Suddenly there was potential for growth, for change, for new ideas. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was there. So I decided, I would move back to Delhi at the end of my one year work period, just for a year or so.
Sinatra and Jay-Z seem to think that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere… they clearly haven’t been to Delhi. New York is one of the safest cities in the world, the subway system works 24/7 so you never really need a car to get around, and being the city that never sleeps, one can pop out at any time of the day or night to find food, drink or pretty much anything else they could ever need.
New Delhi is the undisputed crime capital of India. This is a city where traffic rules are considered suggestions that you can choose to follow, as a result of which every second on the road feels like the last one you will live. And everyone is trying to hustle you, especially if they detect you’re not from there. So suffice it to say that I most certainly do have my apprehensions about moving back. It will challenge me in a lot of ways, but will help me cultivate a true independence and resilience, while allowing me to reconnect with the only country I truly belong to.
So as August 14th, my departure date, creeps closer, I anticipate it with mixed emotions of fear and excitement. In the meanwhile, I intend to enjoy my last days in NYC to the fullest.
At the brink of my biggest independent life decision to date, I am starting a blog to document my last days in New York City before I move back to what I ultimately I consider my hometown, New Delhi.
The final countdown begins…